We know very well that AMD will have two major releases this year – the so-called Summit Ridge processors and the eagerly expected Zen chips with both families supporting DDR4 memory. Yet all the attention has been focused on the chips rather than on the infrastructure behind them and this is a mistake, which becomes an even bigger one when you learn that AMD will have a new socket for the Zen and Summit Ridge chips, called AM4.
It turns out that the AM4 socket will end the backwards compatibility that many AMD users enjoyed in the past several years. The AM4 socket will have 1331 pins and a special design that will allow them to house processors with TDP levels of up to 140 watts but this means that users will not be able to use older processors with the new socket. Despite the pin increase the new AMD processors will come in the same 40 x 40 mm package so there’s a chance your old AM3 cooler will work with the newest AMD hardware.
AMD’s Zen processors are expected this fall while Summit Ridge will come out sooner – perhaps this spring or summer.